When you had your child you probably made a promise to them that you would protect them from anything and everything. Now we know that it is not possible to protect or shield your child from everything because eventually, they will go out into the world without you. there is no telling what or who they will encounter when they venture into the world but according to Stopbullying.gov, 21% of students experience bullying at some point in their school career. Not all bullying is physical, there are actually three different types of bullying: verbal, physical and social. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Lastly, social bullying is hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. If you have noticed some behavioral changes in your child then that may be a sign that your child is a victim of bullying. It is important to know the signs so that you can be proactive in making sure that your child is happy and healthy, both mentally and physically. We compiled a list of the 20 most common behavioral changes that occur when a child is being bullied so that you know what you should be on the lookout for.
20 Sudden Loss Of Friends
You will notice some friends that come and go in your child's life and others that are there from the very beginning to the very end. It can be hard to see your child lose friends that they were once close to but its natural to outgrow friendships like you do old clothes. However, if you notice that your child suddenly loses all or most of their friends in the matter of days or weeks then something is not right. This is especially true if your child has always been a social butterfly and was constantly with friends. Losing friends, especially your best friends, can be extremely traumatizing for kids and can lead to a whole new slew of problems. This is something that you should address as soon as it is brought to your attention. You should not just ask your child as they may not give you the whole truth, it is usually best to talk to other parents and teachers to find out what really happened. Everyone will have their own version but at least you will be able to get different pieces to the story in hopes of piecing everything together.
19 Decreased Self Esteem
Self esteem is very important in children because it can determine how they view the world and how the world views them. When your child is young your probably built them up to the point where they had pretty good self esteem but sadly this can all be destroyed in just a few minutes when a bully choses them as their next victim. When a child's peer makes a comment about them it seems way to real and can easily destroy what you have been working on for years to build up. If your child was once very confident in themselves and then they come home one day completely disgusted by what they see then something is definitely up. It is normal for kids to compare themselves to their peers and its even normal for them to want to change little things about themselves here and there. What is not normal is when they feel like they are worth nothing and deserve nothing. If your child is expressing anything near this then you need to find them help and seek guidance from school administrators to find out what is happening when you are not there.
18 Unexplainable Injuries
Now this one may seem obvious to some, but it can go under the radar pretty easily. Everyone knows that kids are clumsy and careless sometimes, especially when they are surrounded by their friends and other various distractions that school offers. Even though kids are prone to getting cuts, scrapes and bruises you should still be on the lookout if it seems like your child is coming home with more and more injuries. This is especially a warning sign if your child is not able to give you a proper explanation on where these injuries are coming from or they seem flustered when you ask. According to Stopbullying.gov, kids who are being bullied may want to handle the situation on their own so that they can regain some sort of control and also out of fear of being perceived as weak. That is why it is usually best to go to your child’s teacher or administrators if you are concerned that something may be going on. They will be able to get a better insight then you and your child may be more willing to open up to them. If you have a gut feeling that something just isn’t right then make sure you follow through and investigate it before it escalates into something bigger then you or your child.
17 Shift In Friends
Over the course of your child's adolescence, you will continuously notice some friends come and go. Your child should have some core friends that they have had for a long time and continue to remain by their side through thick and thin. If you notice their core friends start to shift then that is when you know that something is up. If they suddenly stop hanging out with the girls or boys they grew up with and no longer what anything to do with those they once spent every weekend with then you should figure out what happened. Maybe they just had a bad falling out or grew apart, but this is also one of the major signs of bullying that most parents miss. According to parenttoolkit.com, look for little clues that your child has either lost their friends or seem to be hanging out with a new group like they are complaining about eating lunch alone or the kids that they once begged to hang out with after school seem to have fallen off the face of the earth. It is normal for kids to have changes in friends but it is not normal for your child to suddenly loss all of their friends or even most of them.
16 Lost Or Destroyed Items
This is another thing that may not seem like a big deal. Kids will be kids, they are not too aware of money and will probably lose a ton of things over the course of their young years. Even though this is the case you will still probably get upset every time they come home without something that they left with. It can be tempting to yell at them and accuse them of being irresponsible but its important to ask your child what happened and listen calmly to their explanation. There are obvious ways this sign may come out, for example if your child is coming home with ripped clothes or their backpack torn apart you may be alerted. But also having ripped notebooks or stolen lunch money can be a sign that something is not right at school. The best way to get to the root of the problem and find out what is happening to their items is to talk to your child calmly, and in a way that makes them feel comfortable opening up to you. Remember that not all children who are being bullied will ask for help so its best to be proactive and question anything that seems off to you.
15 Faking Illness To Stay Home From School
We have all been a kid at one point in our lives. We all know what a drag it can be to get up for school everyday when all you want to do is stay in bed or play with your toys. With that being said, its completely normal for your child to play hooky every once in a while and try to pull one over on you. However if this is something that you are noticing your child do over and over again then this may be a sign that something is not right. When you are a kid especially, school is suppose to be a fun place to socialize, make new friends and learn new things. There should be little to no reason that your child is constantly and consistently trying to get out of going to school unless they are trying to avoid something or someone. Even though it can be very frustrating to have to fight your child to go to school everyday this is a big warning sign that something is not right at school. According to StopBullying.gov, an effect of bullying can be health complaints because of the depression and/or anxiety that being bullied can cause.
14 Changes In Eating Habits
Over the course of your child’s childhood you will notice drastic changes in their eating habits. When they are little they may be super picky but once they reach puberty you will not be able to keep the fridge stocked. When a child is being bullied they may stop eating altogether or they may increase their food intake. Some kids stop eating because of the stress that is put on them from dealing with harassment and unwanted attention. Others eat in order to make themselves feel better and compensate for the abuse that they are facing from peers. This usually leads to even more bullying and thus a vicious cycle is born. According to an article in the Huffington Post, a recent study in the UK found that 75% of respondents who suffer from an eating disorder admitted to being bullied at some point in their life. This is not the first study of its kind and it was determined a long time ago that bullying has a direct link to eating disorders and body image. If you notice a drastic change in your child’s eating habit then its best to sit down with them and get to the root of the problem.
13 Difficulty Sleeping/Nightmares
When a child is having trouble sleeping or experiencing an increased amount of nightmares there can be a number of things behind it. In todays society kids are getting more and more stressed out about school work and are given a large amount of homework to complete every night. This is one of the leading causes of children having trouble sleeping however this can also be a sign that your child is being bullied. When a child is being bullied they may feel unsafe and constantly be worried about going to school the next day. This can lead to difficulty sleeping as well as nightmares. According to an article on verywellfamily.com, even bystanders who witness bullying can have trouble sleeping as well as the bullies. In fact, studies have shown that aggressive children are more likely to have trouble sleeping that non aggressive kids. It is important to be aware of your child's sleep schedule and disturbances because it will allow you a small insight into their mental well being. Knowing this will also open a window of opportunity for you to talk about what is going on at school and online with your child.
12 Declining Grades
It can be very tempting to yell and punish your child when they come home with another failing test grade. For most of their school career their only job is to go to school and get good grades so how can they mess that up? Even though yelling may be the easier option there is usually an underlying reason why your child is doing and in school. After all, most children do not set out to get grounded and fail their classes on purpose. For kids who are being bullied their grades usually start to drop because they are so concerned and anxious about what is going to happen inside of the classroom that they are unable to pay attention to what is happening inside of the classroom. UCLA recently did a study regarding this subject and found that kids who are being bullied do substantially worse in school than kids who are not bullied. After the study, UCLA found that kids who were bullied suffered a 1.5 GPA loss in their middle school years. This is a significant drop in GPA and can affect their future placement moving forward into high school. If your child is struggling in school reach out to teachers and administrators to find out what the root of the problem.
11 Self Destructive Behavior
Watching your child want to hurt themselves can be one of the hardest things that you will ever see. In your eyes your child is perfect and it can be hard to come to the realization that they don't see it that way. Either way, self destructive behavior is very serious and should be taken as such. If your child indicates that they want to hurt themselves or you have seen evidence pointing to self destructive behavior then you need to find them help and fast. You don't want to wait around for this to become something that you wish you would have done. Self destructive behavior is one of the most common signs that your child is being bullied. According to acu.edu, new research has found that children who are victims of bullying are more likely binge drink, engage in self harm, suffer from depression and get suspended from school. According to the American Society for the prevention of Cruelty To Children, 1 out of 10 students drop out of or change schools as a result of bullying.With the increased use of technology among younger generations bullying is even more prevalent and this behavior is becoming more and more common. Children are becoming self destructive because they feel that there is no escape from the bullies that are tormenting them.
10 Change In Demeanor
As a parent, you know your child better than anyone else. You can tell when something is bothering them with just a look so when your child's demeanor changes it is something that you will probably pick up on right away. It is true that once your child hits puberty and begins high school they may start to pull away from you and develop a bit of an attitude. However their demeanor as a whole should still remain the same. If they were always a bit of a loner and stayed to themselves then this should not be alarming if they continue this behavior. However if your son or daughter is normally outgoing and happy but they suddenly become secluded and quite then something is more than likely up. If you notice this behavior starting to become more and more normal then you should speak to their teachers in order to find out more information on how they are acting at school and around their friends. It may just be part of them growing up and trying to find their way but it can also be a big sign that something is not right and you need to take action on your child's part.
9 Increase Social Media Use
Nowadays it is extremely rare if your teenager, or younger, does not have any form of social media. Social media is a great way to connect with friends and family who you may not be able to see or talk to everyday. However, social media can also be a great way for bullies to reach children when they are not at school. When your child is being bullied online it can feel like they have no escape form the torment and they may feel trapped. Even though this is the case, it can be addictive to go online and see what people are saying about you. Your child may feel like they have to go online in order to put out all of the fires that the bullies are setting or because that is the only place where they can be free of the torment. Either way increased social media use may be a sign that something is up. This one is a bit trickier because a lot of kids nowadays basically live on social media so you may not be able to tell if they are going on because something is up or just because its what everyone else is doing. Either way its best to be aware of your child's social media use because cyber bullying is one of the most common forms of bullying nowadays.
8 Sudden Loss Of Interest In Being On The Phone Or Computer
Kids and teens typically love social media and being on any sort of technology. It is the main way that they connect with their friends and peers when they are not at school. There are a ton of benefits to the phones and computers that we have today but they also open up yet another door for children and teens to bully one another expect this time it can be from the comfort of their own home. Stopbullying.gov defines cyberbullying as bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers and even gaming systems. When your child is being bullied technically in their own home they can feel that there is no escape and that they are trapped so they may cut out going online all together in order to shield themselves from the bullies. This is a good tactic for a little while because seeing it will only hurt them more but it is not a long-term tactic so be sure to monitor your child's social media use and if you notice they suddenly don't have any interest in it then don't just breathe a sigh of relief. There is probably a reason behind this sudden break from social media to ask questions and get to the bottom of it. You are your child's biggest advocate so don't let any signs of bullying get swept under the rug.
7 Trying To Self Medicate
It is pretty normal for teenagers to experiment with different things like alcohol. Most people have been in the situation where your friends are doing it so you try it, because why not? They will be peer pressured to try almost everything that you can imagine, sometimes they will succumb to the pressure and other times they will not. However what is not normal is your teen trying to cover up the pain of being persecuted and bullied with alcohol or even worse. If your child is showing signs that they are trying to self-medicate there is no time to waste. Even teenagers are just children and they may not realize the magnitude of their actions. When kids self-medicate they may develop a substance abused disorder to whatever they are using. They will now have two big issues on their hand to deal with. If you notice that your teen or child is self-medicating then its best to take action immediately. Don't approach them with accusations and anger, instead, show that you are concerned and want to help them. They will be a lot more likely to open up to you if they are not afraid of getting in trouble or looked down upon.
6 Become Aggressive
Like we said earlier, you know your child better than anyone else. As a parent or guardian, you have been there with them the longest. You know what their personality is and how they normally act towards other so you will probably be the first one to pick up on any sort of personality change. Some children who are being bullied end up becoming more aggressive themselves. They do this in order to protect themselves and try to ward away the bullies. Sometimes kids who are being bullied become aggressive because they are upset with what is going on and don't know how to deal with it. This violent behavior can be directed at a few different places including the bully, the school, their parents or even themselves. They will be angry at the bully for obvious reasons but they may also be angry at the other three for not being able to protect them from what is happening. Bullying has a lot of long term effects that can hinder your child in their future for years to come so if your otherwise sweet child suddenly turned angry and aggressive handle the situation right away!
5 Arrive Home Hungry
Now this one may not seem like an outward sign of bullying because when most kids arrive home from school they go right for the snack cabinet to find something to sink their teeth into. However, if you are sending your child to school with a jam-packed lunch or ample lunch money and they are arriving home starving like they haven't eaten anything all day then something is not right. The cafeteria is one of the most common places that children experience bullying because there is typically very little adult supervision. It is one of the few times during the day where kids are able to socialize with one another without a teacher watching or listening to their every move. According to an article on parents.com titled "Bullying In The Lunch Room - What You Need To Know", lunchroom bullying has been around for as long as anyone can remember. Most recently it has changed a bit because kids are now making fun of others for what is in their lunchbox. This may result in your child not wanting to eat their lunch in front of others or throwing it away before anyone sees it.
4 Afraid To Be Alone
Most kids will cling to their parents at some point in their childhood. After all you are the people that they go to for comfort and protection so it only makes sense that they will want to be stuck to your side when they are upset, scared or even just uncomfortable. However it is not normal for your child to never want to be alone, even in your own home. If your child is being bullied at school then they may feel unsafe everywhere they go because their self esteem has been chipped away. You don't want your child to live in fear of being persecuted and made fun of so if you notice that your child is starting to hate being alone or with out you then you should seek help in finding out what the root of the problem is. According to Stompbullyingout.org, a large number of children who are victims of bullying have developed anxiety and depression. This website also states that one in four kids in America are bullied so its important to remind your child or teenager that they are not alone despite how alone they may feel at that moment.
3 Appears Sad And/Or Moody
Now this sign of bullying may be a bit more difficult to spot because a lot of teens become moody once they reach puberty and their hormones are all out of wack. However if your child went from being happy and carefree overnight to being miserable and sad all the time then something is up. It is not normal for any kid, no matter the age, to have a complete personality change in just a couple of days. Being bullied, either online or in school, can be a lot of damage to your child's self esteem and general happiness so its no surprise that this is one of the signs and effects of bullying. According to medicaldaily.com, bullying can leave your child with lasting effects on their mood and mental state. Studies have found that children who are bullied have a lot more trouble talking with others and controlling their anger because of the trauma that they suffered at the hands of their bullies. If you notice your child's mood shift significantly it is a good idea to seek help from counselors and their teachers in order to get to the root of the problem. If not and the bullying continues your child may be scared for life and have to deal with a whole new set of problems.
2 Afraid Of Riding The School Bus
If school cafeterias are the most common place that bullies find their victims then the school bus has to be a close second. It is even less supervised then the cafeteria because the bus driver must focus mainly on driving instead of what is being said by all of the children. A school bus is a great place for bullies to find their victims because they virtually have no way to escape or hide from them. Also, the same kids ride the same bus every single day so they can target the same child over and over again. Pretty much all kids are nervous to get on the bus when they first start school so by this warning sign we mean if there is a sudden fear of the bus after they have been riding it for a while. Also if they seem to be intentionally missing the bus by getting ready slower then usual or sleeping in, then this could be a sign that something is not right. As a parent, you probably have a million other things going on so some of these signs can be hard to spot but the main thing is to look for patterns. If your child misses the bus here and there then it's probably just an accident but if something like that is happening every single day its best to check it out.
1 Sudden Withdrawal/Evasion
There will come a time in your child's life when they think that their parents are super uncool and they would rather hang out with their friends. Although this may hurt your feelings it is pretty normal and should subside within a couple of years, then you will be cool again and all will be forgiven! What is not normal however is if your child suddenly withdraws from life altogether. If all they want to do is stay locked in their room alone and refuse to talk to anyone, including their friends. If your child is not interested in spending any time with anyone or basically doing anything, in general, this can be a sign that something is going on with them. Withdrawal and evasion is a huge warning sign that they may be depressed or have anxiety, both of these are the biggest effects that bullying has on kids. Depression caused by bullying can last a lifetime so it is important to help your child get back to their old selves as fast as possible. According to bullystatsictics.com, depression and bullying have a strong link and can lead to a lot deadlier consequences if the problem is not resolved fast.
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